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The Dam Busters (1955)

 -  Drama | History | War  -  16 July 1955 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 6,786 users  
Reviews: 89 user | 33 critic

The story of how the British attacked German dams in WWII by using an ingenious technique to drop bombs where they would be most effective.

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(book), (based on Wing Comdr. Gibson's own account in "Enemy Coast Ahead"), 1 more credit »
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Title: The Dam Busters (1955)

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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 3 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Doctor B. N. Wallis, C.B.E., F.R.S.
...
Mrs. Wallis
Charles Carson ...
Doctor
Stanley Van Beers ...
Sir David Pye, C.B., F.R.S.
Colin Tapley ...
Doctor W. H. Glanville, C.B., C.B.E.
Frederick Leister ...
Committee Member
Eric Messiter ...
Committee Member
Laidman Browne ...
Committee Member
Raymond Huntley ...
Official, National Physical Laboratory
Hugh Manning ...
Official, Ministry of Aircraft Production
Patrick Barr ...
Captain Joseph (Mutt) Summers, C.B.E.
Edwin Styles ...
Observer At Trials
Hugh Moxey ...
Observer At Trials
Anthony Shaw ...
R.A.F. Officer At Trials
Basil Sydney ...
Edit

Storyline

The British are desperate to shorten the length of WW2 and propose a daring raid to smash Germany's industrial heart. At first the objective looks impossible until a British scientist invents an ingenious weapon capable of destroying the planned target. Written by Dave Jenkins <david.jenkins@smallworld.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

bomb | flood | dam | scientist | bomber | See All (42) »

Taglines:

The story of the "bombs that had to bounce" - and the air-devils who had to drop 'em! See more »

Genres:

Drama | History | War

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

16 July 1955 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Dambusters  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Footage used to show the bombs as they skipped on the surface of the water towards the dams was drawn from footage of the bombs being tested. The backspin placed on the bombs, which was secret at the time, gave them gyroscopic stability when skipping across the water, then held them against the dams as they sank. To conceal the backspin, the bombs in the footage were painted over frame by frame. See more »

Goofs

Some crew are seen to be entering the Lancasters prior to taking off wearing normal walking shoes instead of flying boots. See more »

Quotes

Bomber Harris: [Harris arrives in the Operations Room to follow the progress of the attack. Officers in the room come to attention and salute] Carry on.
[to Cochrane]
Bomber Harris: Well, Cocky, how's it going?
Air Vice-Marshal Cochrane: All right so far, sir. The first wave's about twenty miles from the Dutch coast. Enemy radar has probably picked them up by now
See more »

Connections

Featured in Into the Wind (2011) See more »

Soundtracks

The Dam Busters
March
by Eric Coates
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Steady, Steady....... Bomb Gone!
17 October 2004 | by (Bristol, UK) – See all my reviews

I personally went to school in the town where the Raids were monitored from (Grantham) by Wallis and Harris. There is hardly any memorabilia recording this local fact, and no-one would ever know. I know of RAF Scampton too, which I believe has closed down some years ago. For Lincolnshire, the Dams Raid is remembered poignantly, as the 617 Squadron, who now fly Tornados

in Scotland, was formed and trained there. They practised on the Derwent Reservoir near Sheffield, and the Eyebrook Reservoir in Leicestershire.

Sir Barnes Wallis thought in innovative ways, and the fact that this 'far out' idea of bouncing bombs on a lake, actually breached two dams is an engineering marvel. To do so under heavy flak is beating the odds. Wallis and 617 Squadron collaborated again with the Tallboy and Grand Slam 'earthquake' bombs, which destroyed many important railway viaducts and tunnels, as well as sinking the Tirpitz.

Richard Todd, after the film, moved 3 miles from Grantham. Maybe the film was the reason for this.

The film is one of few about RAF Bomber Command, and is a good portrayal of the danger involved. 41% of crew were killed (55,000). After early 1944, the loss rate rapidly decreased, as the Luftwaffe had been destroyed, so from 1940-3 I would guess 60-70% of crew were killed, for the whole campaign. It may be higher. The RAF didn't even know the Germans had excellent radar until early 1942. The film is about team work and working under stress - your immediate future depended on 6 other people. Many things could go wrong along the way. It is also about strong resilience to new ideas. i.e. The RAF could have had jet planes before 1939 if they'd have developed Whittle's ideas in the 1930s, instead of foolishly waiting 10 whole years until 1941. Whittle was then humiliated after the war by forcing him to give all his designs to the Americans, who didn't waste any time in treating the idea as their own.

When I first saw the film, I thought the special effects were weak and I was astonished a bomb bounced in the first place. When older and seeing it again, you can empathise more with the RAF crews and the skill and daring they would need. It focuses on one story line, and does not have American accents mysteriously appearing from nowhere. I think at the time Guy Gibson was about 25. Imagine yourself having that responsibility at 25.

Many of the 'Upkeep' mines that were bounced, completely missed the targets. Certainly for the Eder dam, there was just one mine left, and was dropped in the right place and destroyed the dam in 'one go'. The film gives the impression many were exploded to breach the dam, but actually a single one did the 'job'.

The Germans are never shown, and I would love to have known what they thought seeing this strange sight of bombs skimming the water's surface. I think Spielberg would have enjoyed making this film, but half of it would have been about the Germans. If the dams had been breached six months earlier, when a water pumping system had not been installed, the Germans would have been seriously up the creek with no paddles. The Ruhr Industry would have been unable to function at all. Do not underestimate what hypothetical difference the dams breach could have made to the Germans in their biggest industrial area.

Do women enjoy the film too, or is all the technical wizardry just for the male audience?

Why did Pink Floyd use it in their film 'The Wall'? Carling Black Label used the lake scenes many times in notorious adverts.


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